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Greenshank

Tringa nebularia

A medium sized wading bird: their closest breeding grounds are northern Scotland and Scandinavia. They come down to the Solent in the winter to escape the colder climate.

The second half of their scientific name – nebularia – is the Latin term for mist or fog and relates to their damp, marshy habitat.

All about greenshank

Greenshank are a less common relative of the redshank: but with grey-green legs instead of red. There are less than 1,000 greenshank in the whole country in the winter, compared with more than 100,000 redshank.

They’re slightly taller than their more common cousin – about 32cm long compared with 28cm for redshank – with females being slightly larger than their male counterparts. They have long slender legs, a grey back and a slightly upturned bill which can be more obvious when they’re in flight. When they’re flying, their darker wings make a lovely contract with their white undersides.

They tend to avoid crowds so you will always see them either on their own or in small groups, feeding on fish, worms, and snails.

Greenshank perform display flights at their breeding grounds, flying up and down and sometimes tumbling in the air.

 

Greenshanks in flight

Local spotlight

They can be spotted in wetland habitats around the Solent in the winter, although they aren’t nearly as common as other wading birds.

Conservation status

Greenshank are amber listed in the UK. Greenshank might not be listed in the Solent’s Special Protection Areas but they are important for the coastal ecosystem and form part of the non-breeding waterbird assemblages for which these regions are protected.

Did you know?

Like their redshank cousins, greenshank get their name from the old-school term ‘shank’ meaning leg, or more specifically, the part of the leg between the knee and the ankle. You might be familiar with the term if you’ve ever eaten lamb shank.